Conceived and written by Gerard Alessandrini. Directed by Anne Somes.
Free-Rain Theatre Company. Musical direction by Nicholas Griffin. The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, March 7 to 22.
Tickets $47 adults, $37 concessions, $35 children. Bookings: 62856290.
Does Les Miserables leave you miserable? Does The Phantom of the Opera haunt you? Some people love musicals, some hate them, and some love to hate them. And some people can't get past the whole bursting-into-song concept.
But even many aficionados will concede there's a lot that can be ridiculed about musicals. From genre conventions to particular shows to the distinctive qualities of certain directors, writers, and performers - it's a rich field for mockery.
That's where Forbidden Broadway comes in. Creator-writer Gerard Allessandrini's (mostly) affectionate spoof takes on everything from the avalanche of praise and awards that fell on Rent (Seasons of Hype, sung to Seasons of Love) to the sheer volume of Wicked's power ballad in Defying Subtlety (Defying Gravity).
A couple of has-been child stars sing a revised version of Tomorrow from Annie and the Phantom of the Opera gets a lesson in voice projection from Ethel Merman in Mucous of the Night.
The off-Broadway revue, regularly changing its contents and cast, made its debut in 1982 and ran for 27 years and more than 2000 performances until 2009, resuming after a hiatus of nearly a year. As well, it has spread around the world, with more than 9000 performances of various editions of the show internationally.
Now a production of highlights selected from various instalments is being presented by the Free-Rain Theatre Company.
Director Anne Somes says, ''It's a wonderful parody of some of the really big shows on Broadway. It's witty, the lyrics are hilarious and it has got a lot of fantastic situations and a real energy to it.''
The original show had a cast of three but Somes has assembled a larger group - Halimah Kyrgios, Tim Dal Cortivo, Georgia Pike, David Spence, Nicola Hall, Linda Gledhill, Sian Harrington, Jordan Kelly, Chris Byrne, David Santolin, Amy Campbell and Calen Robinson - to bring Forbidden Broadway to life and give some more time for costume changes.
And, says Somes, ''the show goes like the clappers''.
Dal Cortivo began acting in Canberra as a child - his roles included Gavroche in Les Miserables in 2002. He had his first lead role in a Free-Rain production of Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit and was in the company's production of The Phantom of the Opera last year.
He is now a professional actor based in Sydney and has had roles in shows including Carrie: the Musical and Sweeney Todd. He's back for Forbidden Broadway and this time he gets to play Sweeney, sort of, among many other parts. He mocks Mandy Patinkin's histrionics in Somewhat Overindulgent (Over the Rainbow) and and bemoans the fact that It's Too High (Bring Him Home) from Les Miserables. And there's more - for him, and for everybody else. Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli are mocked, Cats, A Chorus Line and Mamma Mia! make appearances - on and on it goes, with plenty of challenges for the actors. But they're up for it.
''The cast is amazing,'' Dal Cortivo says. And they have to be quick on their toes, constantly changing costumes and characters.
Somes says it's like a bit like a crash course in musicals: ''You get to see everything.''
With, of course, a humorous twist. That's what Forbidden Broadway is all about - celebration through send-up.